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Building relationships is not difficult if you treat your customers like you want to be treated. The businesses that have the best customer service will be most successful ones.

It’s inevitable that at some point in our lives we’ve all received poor customer service. Whether it’s at a restaurant, a convenience store, a department store, or simply a conversation over the phone to receive technical support for our gadgets, poor customer service is frustrating for everyone.

When businesses provide exceptional customer service, customers will continue to come back. If they receive poor customer service, they will take their business elsewhere. To ensure your customers are satisfied, you must meet their expectations every time.

What is customer service anyway? Customer service is about establishing a relationship. You want to bring customers back. If you send them away happy, they will tell others. If you make a great first impression, or you have exceeded the customer’s expectations, a relationship has been established. If you respond promptly to your customer's needs and follow up with your customer as promised, that relationship is strengthened.

As an employer, you have the responsibility to set the expectations for your employees. Lead by example and train the employees how to interact and communicate with customers in order to build those long-term relationships.

Consider these principles for delivering good customer service:

  • First impressions are important. Greet your customer when they walk into your facility. Do not make them wait to be assisted. Acknowledge their presence immediately, be friendly and smile. Your attitude can say a lot about you and your facility.
  • Create a professional image and a positive attitude. Make each interaction with your customer a positive one.
  • Be courteous, respectful and polite to your customers. Identify them by Mr. or Ms. Using their name will make them feel important, valued and appreciated.
  • Be reliable and listen to what your customer is saying. Honor your commitments and provide them what was promised. Be responsive and exceed their expectations.
  • Follow up with your customers to ensure they are satisfied. Address any issues promptly.
  • Be accountable and take personal responsibility for your customer’s satisfaction. Do not make excuses or blame other team members for the problem. If you are unable to answer their question, indicate that you will get back to them.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more information you can give them, the better they will feel. If you know your customer is going to have to wait for 30 minutes, be honest with them and tell them why. If your customer is told this up front then they know what to expect. Continue to communicate any changes to the customer on a regular basis.
  • Use good manners. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Encourage feedback from your customers through surveys. Use the feedback and make the necessary changes to address identified issues.
  • Constantly strive for improvement.

Building relationships is not difficult if you treat your customers like you want to be treated. Customers will remember the beginning and the ending of an interaction. The businesses that have the best customer service will be most successful ones.

It takes a lot more effort to “re-establish” a relationship than it does to do it right the first time. That’s why it’s important to not only do it right the first time, but to do it right every time. Empower your employees by teaching them the principles of exceptional customer service. Teach and lead by example to deliver superior customer service.

What are you doing to differentiate your business from your competition? Have you established a new relationship today?

Dena Kirk is the Administrative Director of Occupational Medicine and Rehabilitation Services for SIH. If you would like more information, please contact Dena Kirk at 618-993-3817 or email Dena at dena.kirk@sih.net.

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